.444 marlin ,.450 mrlin or 45-70 gov't


March 17, 2005, 12:24 AM
i was wondering on what to buy for new big bore lever action rifle.im in between the .444 or the 450 or the 45-70 any suggestions?

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March 17, 2005, 02:28 AM
You need a couple of these babies (http://www.wildwestguns.com/CoPilot_And_Guide_Rifles/body_copilot_and_guide_rifles.html)

Or you can go the more tradional THR route and buy one in each caliber :D

March 17, 2005, 08:42 AM
The 45-70 is the better choice .Many different factory loads are available from cowboy shooting type to some very awesome loads by Garrett etc.

March 17, 2005, 01:22 PM
the 444 marlin you are limited to 44 mag bullets.....the difference between the 450 marlin and the 45-70 is so small the 45-70 is probably the best choice with more bullet weight choices..........I load the 300 gr. bullets for 2 Marlin guide guns in 45-70

March 17, 2005, 01:49 PM
"...limited to 44 mag bullets..." Not exactly. .429" to be sure, but you can use heavier than 240 grain bullets in the .444. A quick net search yields data for up to 315 grain cast bullets and 300 grain ammo.
The .450 Marlin and .45/70 are ballistically identical. However, .45/70 ammo and brass is easier to come by.

March 17, 2005, 01:56 PM
I was/have been looking at the .450 Marlin and .45/70. What I took from is that the .450 marlin was developed so hot loads could be made commercially without the worry of someone putting them in a old 45/70 rifle. I am really leaning towards the .45/70 just because of what you can buy of the shelf. I don't reload, maybe someday but because I rent and will have to be somewhat mobile for the next half dozen years I want things I can go to xyz store and get ammo for.


March 17, 2005, 02:00 PM
Thank you guys for your imput i really appriciate your advice it seems that you guys are pionting me in the direction of the 45-70. So i think im gonna go with the marlin 1895. once again i appriciate your response.


March 17, 2005, 02:13 PM
The ole 45-70 is a wonderful choice I think. I have one in a Ruger #1. It is suitable for loads that chunk big ole heavy bullets so slow that you have time to take a quick nap before you hear them hit the 100 yd target (yet are amazingly accurate!) all the way up to the ones you can hunt cape buff with IF you can stand the recoil!

VERY versatile with a myriad of bullets available and, when you begin to reload, you will find a full catalog of recipes concocted from the 1870's up to now. Factory ammo is almost that plentiful too.

They are a HOOT to shoot! Enjoy!

March 17, 2005, 02:16 PM
I bought my Marlin 1895G in .45/70 because I thought it offered more versatility in that caliber. Of course, there was no .444 in an equivalent package nor a .450 Marlin then.

If you handload, I could argue that the versatility issue is pretty much moot. If you look at the selection of available factory ammo, it's no contest.

FWIW, the vast majority of the ammo I've run through mine has been pretty mild. There are no grizzlies, buffalo, wapiti, nor outsized wild boar where I live. Hell, I can't even hunt whitetail with it here! While I have worked up wonderfully accurate loads suitable for any kind of hunting that I'm likely to do with it using the Sierra 300 gr. JHP over very moderate charges of both AA 2015BR and Hogden Varget (average velocity c. 1900 f/s in my rifle's 18 1/2" barrel) almost all of my 'fun' shooting has been with commercially-cast 300/350 gr. LFNGC bullets at around 1300 f/s. Easy on the shoulder and the wallet.

March 17, 2005, 03:06 PM
Sunray...the 44 mag is not limited to 240 gr bullets either........I load the Hornady 265 gr. FP and the Speer 300 gr. JHP's.......I also bought some Garrett's 310 gr. heavy weight cast bullets at 1325 fps for my Super Blackhawk and contender.......the best bullets for the 444 would be the Hornady 265 gr. or the Speer JHP, or Hornady 300 gr. XTP's....

March 17, 2005, 07:20 PM
I got the 444 because I have a couple of 44 magnums and can put together practice ammo without buying something in an additional caliber. The 444 can be loaded with Nosler Partitions or Swift A-Frames for really big game. I have also loaded up to 300gr loads with good accuracy though I hear they may be marginal for stability in a Marlin rifle with a slow twist rate.

If I wasn't trying to limit the calibers I reload for I would go with the 45-70. There are stout bullets made for the 458 Win Mag that can be used for almost anything on the planet.

If you plan to put a scope on one of these, get the long eye relief type. Believe me, your eyebrow will thank you!

March 17, 2005, 10:16 PM
Typically the advice is that if you reload, you should pick the 45/70 but if you don't, you should go with .444 or .450.

What's really strange about this advice is that the .444 and .450 are basically one load cartridges. Generally speaking, there is only one loading for each of these cartridges.

On the other hand, loaded 45/70 ammo can be bought with bullet weights from 300 grains up to 540 grains, and velocities from barely over 1000fps all the way up to 2100fps. That, by the way includes a loading from PMC which essentially duplicates the only .450 Marlin loading and is available for around $20 a box.

As nearly as I can tell, if you DON'T reload, the 45/70 is the ONLY logical choice out of these three.

The other two are fine calibers, but only if you really like the single loading available for them. If you want anything different you'll have to load it yourself... ;)

Carl N. Brown
May 10, 2005, 11:48 AM
The excuse for the 450 Marlin is keepin high performance loads out of weak
actions: the Hornady manual has three tiers for .45-70 reloads, from
trapdoor (weak), to 336 M1895 Marlin (moderate) to Ruger single shot (heavy).
Shooting muzzle loader, I used a .45-70 case for a powder measure and I
have found some brands will hold 73 grain FFg while some will hold 80 grains
FFg (filling the case full as a powder measure).
450 Marlin in a 450 Marlin removes all doubts. On the other hand, choose
your brass carefully and know your gun, and the 45-70 will do just fine.
Six of one, half-dozen of the other.
At our black powder cartridge matches, the only perfect scores on benchrest
have been shot by one gentleman using 45-70, most recently 50 out of 50
with 4x. 45-70 will be obsolete when gunpowder stops going boom.

May 10, 2005, 12:29 PM
If you don't handload, IMO the best choice is the .45-70.
That being said, how many different loads do you need ? With the .45-70 you can shoot a huge range of bullet weights from a wide variety of manufacturers. I think you can even get lightly loaded "cowboy" ammo. But seriously, how many people really have a need to play around with all these different loads ? How many people can even find all these different loads to buy ? How many people THAT DON'T HANDLOAD ever really play around with these different loads ?
The versitility is nice, options are always nice but I doubt if very many people need this option. IMO, you give up nothing with the .45/70 while the other two have limitations.

As a general rule, the .444 Marlin shoots lighter bullets, faster, than the .45-70. Again, as a general rule the .45-70 picks up where the .444 Marlin leaves off. Basically the .444 Marlin starts with 180 grain bullets and ends with 300 grain bullets. The .45-70 will start at 300 and go up to 510 grain bullets. I REALIZE there are exceptions to all this: lighter, heavier, faster, slower: that is why I said AS A GENERAL RULE.
The .444 Marlin gets a lot of bad press on these boards due to posts that are incorrect. The .444 Marlin is not limited to pistol bullets, nor is the .444 Marlin limited to one factory load.

May 10, 2005, 01:05 PM
JohnKSa I think you have it backwards.

If you don't reload there is a great variety of loads available for the 45/70.

If you don't reload there is one commercially available round for the 450 Marlin. Why would you choose a cartridge with only one available commercial round?

On the other hand if you do reload then either can offer great variety, with the 45/70 being the one with the most available known loads. The 450 Marlin case actually has a little less capacity than the 45/70 but since it is designed to be a mid level loaded cartridge anyway that should not be a deterrent.

If you classify the rifles these loads are shot from as Level One for a Trapdoor Springfield (weakest), Level Two for a Marlin Lever gun (stronger) and Level Three for a Ruger #1 (strongest) then the loads available for a lever gun are all going to be in the mid range.

I have been debating which barrel to pick up for an Encore and I am leaning towards the 450 Marlin simply because I would never load to the levels a Ruger #1 is capable of but I still get all the versatility I want from a barrel that would only be used to hunt with once a year.

May 10, 2005, 01:14 PM
What do you want the rifle for?

If you're never hunting anything larger than white or blacktail deer, buy any of the three.

If you reload, buy any of the three.

If you don't reload, and want versatility, buy the .45-70. If you do reload, and want versatility, buy the .45-70.

Far as light loads go- a load about like Mainmech's *might* be about perfect on short-medium range deer. ;)


May 10, 2005, 01:31 PM
"Why would you choose a cartridge with only one available commercial round?"

Well, this was a point I was trying to make in my first post. If that one commercial load does exactly what you need it to do, then why not ? As I said, who REALLY plays around with all these different loads ? Some people certainly do, the vast majority don't.
Which brings us to John's post: what are you going to do with the rifle ?
If you are going to be using it as a rifle for eastern whitetail deer hunting, then any one of them is fine. Having one factory load is no drawback. If you bought a .444 Marlin, the one easy to get factory load is a 240 grain softpoint bullet loaded by Remington. This load will easily take any animal in North America and certainly any deer: so is this a drawback ? Not really.
If you are the kind of guy that goes down to the local Wal Mart and buys a box of "shells" then I don't think you are going to be a guy that is experimenting with all the cartridge in question has to offer.

My primary hunting rifle is a .30-06, I have available to me possibly the greatest range of bullets and loads of any cartridge currently available. When I hunt, I have always used the same load: 150 grain soft point at 3000 fps. ONCE I used a 180 grain bullet on elk. And I am a hardcore handloader. I just don't really see the need to play around and experiment with my '06 hunting loads.

May 10, 2005, 05:44 PM
I've never played with the 450, but I've had a couple of 45-70's and currently have my old Marlin lever 444 and my Contender 444. From my experience the 444 is just a tad more accurate than the 45-70, but for the job these guns are designed for there isn't enough difference to matter.
I choose the 444 because, in the wise words of my grandfather, "You best stay on the horse what brung ya."

May 10, 2005, 06:17 PM
I'll add my vote for 45-70. It does tho help if you can reload - heck a simple single stage, some dies, and a box of BearTooth or LaserCast bullets - off ya go (powder and primers help of course! :p )

This round I can load to screamer status for #1 and then also load a slightly less aggressive round for BFR revo. It is a round that has totally got me by the $%#@ - some folks will know what I mean! :D Love it.


May 10, 2005, 09:44 PM

In the first sentence of my post I was stating what is typically given as advice, not what I think. As I said in the next sentence, that advice is strange to me.

Clearly a person who doesn't reload can purchase a wide variety of loadings in 45/70 but only one load in .444 or .450.

All of the 45/70 commercial offerings that I'm aware of are safe in modern lever action rifles. I don't know that I've ever seen anyone selling 45/70 ammo that was too hot for a Marlin or Winchester.

So non-reloaders should chose the 45/70 due to the likelihood that they'll be able to find ammo that meets their needs off the shelf.

A reloader could pick whatever caliber he wants since he can load his own ammunition to his own specifications and not have to live with the total absence of variety in commercial 444 or .450 ammo.

May 10, 2005, 09:46 PM
.444 -- too few bullet choices that are designed for the velocities this cartridge can do <ding>

.450 Marlin -- too little commercial ammo in too few places <ding>

.45-70 -- can do everything the .450 Marlin can do, both with factory loads and with reloads...huge selection of bullets designed for a variety of velocities...commercial ammo of one kind or more is available in virtually every sporting goods store, hardware store or gas station north of the US/Mexico border...

The choice seems obvious to me! :D

May 10, 2005, 09:50 PM
John - I confess, I have not explored all choices on 45-70 factory ammo - always having reloaded - I worked from there.

However - the Rem stuff I got was pretty weak - and I felt that was because ammo makers have in mind trap-doors - and so would not load hotter. I am probably wrong. It would mean tho trap-door owners may have to choose carefully and read the label!!!

To me... the levers are sorta ''mid-range'' - 30,000 pressure if you will - this is approx where I load my BFR (plus a bit!). The ''top end'' for #1's of 35,000 is of course probably reloads only. ''Screamers'' LOL :evil:

Can you mention any makers of other 45-70 rounds other than Rem - I am interested anyways to know how much choice there is.

I started BFR with 20 rounds of whimpy Rem - and then bought 200 Starline cases - after which it has been reloads all the way! :)

May 10, 2005, 09:51 PM
God, I wish someone would let me know how many different bullets and loads you need in a lever action, big bore rifle ?

The statement that only one is available (not true for either, but repeated anyway) has been repeated now a half dozen times but no answer to the question of just how many you need.

May 10, 2005, 09:55 PM
''Need'' ???? haha - often more like ''want''. :p

I suggest anyone into this read thru load suggestions in Lyman (mine is #47) and the Speer 13 perhaps - plus any other manuals. This will give a good idea of the choices. I'd not necessarily recommend one over another.

So much depends on what the shooter fancies. Fast and light or slow and heavy! I am using 405's all time - but might try 350's some day.

May 10, 2005, 10:01 PM
Well, to repeat what I said earlier: most handloaders love to play with different loads and different bullets.
But how many people that don't handload, see only having one load as a drawback ? How many factory loads does their need to be for the non-handloader to try ? If you are buying the rifle for a specific purpose like hunting the animals local to your area, and the ONE load (not true of either caliber but repeated anyway) is great for that purpose, what difference would it make if that was the only one available ?

May 10, 2005, 11:39 PM

Need!? What are you some sort of communist? :D :D

No, you're right, a person really only needs one load for a lever rifle. It's not like you need one load for long range, one for target work, etc. These are relatively range-limited firearms that are primarily utilitarian.

Still, if you get a .450 or a .444, and don't reload then someone ELSE gets to decide what single load you'll use. In the 45/70 you can do some experimentation with off-the-shelf ammo before you decide which load YOU want to be your one-and-only. ;)


Trapdoor/Cowboy loads
PMC 405 gr Lead @ 1350 fps
Remington 405gr Lead @ 1330fps
HSM 405gr lead @1300fps
Black Hills 405gr Lead @ 1250fps

I believe these were developed as deer loads. My understanding is these are also Trapdoor safe.
Winchester 300gr Partition Gold @ 1880fps
Winchester 300gr Super-X JHP @ 1880fps
Federal 300gr JHP @ 1880fps
Remington 300g JHP @ 1810fps

Midrange hunting type loads. I can't recall seeing any special warnings on these, but I wouldn't put them in antiques or replicas.
Corbon 405gr Penetrator @ 1650fps
Corbon 350gr Bonded Core @ 1800fps
Garrett 420 @1850fps
HSM 400 gr JFP @ 1800fps

Top-end (still modern lever action safe but most of these are marked +P or Magnum or something equivalent)
Garrett 420 gr HC @ 1850fps
Garrett 540 gr HC @ 1550fps
Garrett 350 gr JSP @ 2000fps
Garrett 500 gr JSP @ 1600fps
Garrett 500 gr Tungsten Solid @ 1530fps
Buffalobore 430 gr HC @ 1930fps
Buffalobore 405 gr JSP @ 2000fps
Buffalobore 350 gr JSP @ 2150fps
Buffalobore 500gr solid @ 1625fps
Buffalobore 300gr Bonded Core @ 2350fps
HSM 350 gr Bonded Core @ 2000fps
PMC 350gr Sierra JSP @ 2025fps

I don't think I got it all by any means, but that's a good start.

The trapdoor & cowboy stuff runs cheap--maybe $15-20 a box. This looks anemic, but is pretty close to a duplicate of the blackpowder loads that did in the bison.

The Federal/Win/Rem 300gr loads are a bit steeper--what you'd expect to pay for decent hunting ammo.

The HSM & CorBon breaks the $30 a box barrier.

The Buffalobore and Garrett are downright expensive--figure on 2-3 bucks a round. The tungsten solid by Garrett is way up at the top at $9 a shot!

The good news is that the PMC 350 gr +P load can be had for under $20 a box if you look around.

Good shooting!


May 10, 2005, 11:44 PM
John - thx a bunch for all that info - my - just had not looked around to see just what was on offer. The Corbons look well useful... and the Buffalobore.

Makes me glad I have all my brass and stuff - so much easier to ''tailor'' what I want for the gun in question. Not to mention - mega saving in $$$$'s too!

Again thank you - good shooting to you too and stay safe. :)

May 11, 2005, 01:09 AM
Keep in mind that I am talking about the non-handloader. The guy that is probably buying that big bore lever rifle for hunting. He probably isn't going to shoot it much and probably isn't real interested in trying a bunch of ammo. If his load knocks down a deer/bear/elk, it is fine.
I don't fall into that catagory. It might surprise you to learn that I own a .444 Marlin :neener:
I have handloaded ammo that you can barely hear. I have handloaded ammo that duplicates a .44 mag handgun. I have loaded ammo who's recoil broke not one but two Lyman receiver sights. I have loaded cast bullets, I have loaded jacketed bullets. I have loaded rounds with three lead balls in them. I have loaded buck and ball loads with shot in the case and a ball on top to seal it in. There isn't much I haven't tried.
But, I am a handloader.

May 11, 2005, 06:23 AM
444-have ya worked up any accurate 444 loads with the lighter Barnes Bullets, or seen how they work on deer? Tried one load with the 200 gn Barnes x, but the expense of these has kept me from trying too many. Currently have the Marlins in 375 Win, 444 and 45-70. Like em all.

May 11, 2005, 08:46 AM
No, I have never played around with the Barnes bullets. Nor have I ever shot a big game animal with the .444. In fact, I haven't shot the .444 in years.
I got one sort of by accident. A guy was selling a Ruger 77 in .22-250 real cheap and I went to his house to buy it. While I was there, he mentioned that he had some other guns for sale. A Marlin 444 and a Hi-Point 9mm Carbine. Just for the heck of it, I asked him what he wanted for everything and he said he would give me all three guns, reloading dies for all of them, a case of 9mm ammo, a few hundred various bullets, and some accessories for the 9mm carbine all for $350 :what:
I bought them. :D
At that point, I had heard of the .444 Marlin but didn't know much about it. So, I went home and searched the internet. I stumbled across my first on-line gun forum. Since I was looking for information on the .444 Marlin, I registered as 444.
I shot the rifle for about a year. I tried to take it elk hunting twice, but both times, the receiver sight broke while I was double checking my zero prior to the hunt. I ended up putting AO express sights on it along with an AO lever scout mount and a Leupold scout scope. I don't remember if I even zeroed the sights. By that time, I was off on some other tangent.

May 11, 2005, 09:58 AM
all for $350 :eek: :eek: What?? Heck - I hope that was lots of years ago - sounds like one heck of a nice deal!! If that was in recent times it'd seem like a ''giveaway''. :)

May 11, 2005, 10:06 AM
It's shown the test of time and if you reload will leave the others far behind. The .444 is the least desireable of the lot. Oddball caliber that doesn't seem to have a purpose. Why it has survived is beyond me.

May 11, 2005, 03:02 PM
My most accurate pistol load is a Hornady 200gr XTP with a good dose of IMR4198 to get it moving. It will shoot subMOA. In the rifle it doesn't do so hot, around 2.5", but that's a 2MOA rifle at it's best.

May 11, 2005, 03:30 PM
Mmmmm..... .45-70 :D


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